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I Have Swine Flu

November 10, 2009

I have swine flu, H1N1.

I am not worried.

I am not dying.

I have the week off paid from school.

Here is my account, from my perspective, of the Flu virus in Korea. Screw dates, put them in yourself.

Much earlier this year, the virus is discovered in Mexico, some people die, it spreads to the US, many people go crazy, it spreads to a few other countries as summer approaches, including New Zealand, Canada etc.

As the summer starts, US diagnoses increase and the scare mongering of American media freaks out the rest of the world.  Soon everybody is going nuts.  Especially here.

Many people here continue to scratch their heads over the reaction of the Korean government to the spread of the disease.  When foreigners started showing up to Korea with swine flu, the government started forcefully quarantining them.  Horror stories were spreading around Seoul by the mouth of the English teacher like wildfire.  I heard stories of abuse, malnourishment, escape from custody only to be captured and returned, and worst of all for us, school closure.

So many of us couldn’t understand the country’s reaction.  But we don’t have the same kind of population in our home countries as they do here.  There are 16,000 people per square km in Seoul.

One thing to understand is the difference between this “swine” flu and the regular flu.  The difference isn’t much, not in how strong it is.  The difference is in how fast it spreads.  And when you have that many people close together its easy to see how the collective mind of a country can blow.

Now, put this out of your mind because the Korean government doesn’t use this information.  They might use some, but the level of irrational fear in this country is astronomical in that they fear an inordinate amount of things that can’t really hurt them.  One main one of importance is the spread of the fucking flu in august.  Why this country got so out of hand in the mid to late summer is beyond me.  There seems to be a more rational debate happening now that flu season is upon us.  Why did the original fear propagation have to exist?

One reason could be that Korean TV media sensationalizes everything they can get their hands on.  In Korea, it is well known that the TV is liberal leaning and Print is relatively conservative.  Combine this with a blogosphere in Korea that can bring down politicians and cause actresses to end their lives, not to mention keep thousands downtown for months protesting American beef among the litany of Korea’s domestic policy issues, and you have the perfect storm of irrationality.

So, now we are here.  Many don’t know people who have swine flu.  I didn’t as of a few weeks ago.  Now, I know more than 8 adults, and a number of children.

I expect most schools to shut down for a week or so at a time.  Not at once, but staggered in reaction to the spread through the school.

There are about 10,000 new cases a day here.

So: 70,000 a week

280,000 a month

The death toll:

guess: 1000 you say?  lower

100?  lower

Answer: 42 deaths since mid august

I know the high contracting number is a recent one and that Korea can expect more deaths, but not along the lines of a pandemic.

I just think a lot of the overbearing government reaction comes from a few different places.

1. Japan, who had always over reacted to disease and its spread, especially in meat, but also person to person diseases.

2. Population: more people, closer together, more dangerous flu.

3. Media: scare tactics are rampant

4. Culture: They are a first world nation in terms of money, but are still a country struggling to come to terms with itself.  It isn’t so far back that a dictator ruled this country (1980’s), and it is still post colonial in many ways, leading to irrational fear which stem from a distrust of the rest of the world.

5.  Nationalism:  If the government freaks out, so should you.

 

Anyway, I am fine and dandy.  Recovering a bit, but overall, in good spirits.

I can’t leave my home for the most part, but I have many things to keep me company like my books, music, computer, and best of all

my sick girlfriend who gave it to me in the first place

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